Bolivia Fighting Off Lake Titicaca Drug Trafficking: Govt

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According to a Bolivian government official, the country has made significant progress in discouraging drug traffickers from using routes across Lake Titicaca, which connects Peru with Bolivia. However, it is also likely that Peru-based criminal organizations may have simply turned to alternative routes.

Bolivia’s security forces have had a positive impact in combating drug trafficking along Lake Titicaca, Deputy Minister for Social Defense Felipe Caceres told newspaper El Deber

“We haven’t seen [drug] trafficking in that sector for about a year,” the minister told the newspaper. He credited this to “constant” ground, aerial, and naval operations, adding that Bolivian authorities were collaborating with their counterparts in Peru to monitor drug trafficking activity. 

In March 2015, Bolivia launched a joint military-police security surge meant to target contraband and drug trafficking across Lake Titicaca, one of Latin America’s largest lakes, located at the border between Bolivia and Peru. This followed a 2014 agreement between the two countries to collaborate in fighting crime along their shared frontier. 

InSight Crime Analysis

 Caceres’ bold claim that drug trafficking along Lake Titicaca has all but ceased may be overlooking the possibility that criminal organizations are using other routes. According to a report by Peru’s anti-drug force, known as the Dirandro, Peruvian criminal organizations continue to send drug mules — known as “cargachos” — to move cocaine paste across the border by foot, carrying the drugs in backpacks, reported El Deber

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These mules typically depart for Bolivia from the Peruvian districts of Alto Pichas and Palcazu, where drug planes arrive from Peru’s Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys, a hub for coca cultivation known as the VRAEM. In addition to carrying their own food, the mules transport up to 20 kilos of cocaine paste on average, traveling in groups of up to 80 people, according to the Dirandro report, El Deber reported.

There have been previous reports from Peru detailing how these “cargachos” may be transporting significant amounts of cocaine and cocaine paste across the Peru-Bolivia border. So while the increased collaboration between Peru and Bolivia could very well be bringing in results along Lake Titicaca, there is obviously still more work to be done. 

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